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Preview: Harley Quinn #5

Harley Quinn #5

Story: Stephanie Nicole Phillips
Art: Riley Rossmo

Did I miss something, or is there another new creep in a funny costume tryin’ to take over Gotham? Villains in this city are like that multiheaded hydra monster: blow a few up in Arkham Asylum, and 50 more pop up in ridiculous costumes thinkin’ they’re worthy of one of those fancy character variant covers. And here I thought bustin’ outta Hugo Strange’s new headquarters and savin’ the clowns was gonna be my biggest problem today.

Harley Quinn #5

Graphic Policy’s Top Comic Picks this Week!

Infinite Frontier #1

Wednesdays (and now Tuesdays) are new comic book day! Each week hundreds of comics are released, and that can be pretty daunting to go over and choose what to buy. That’s where we come in

Each week our contributors choose what they can’t wait to read this week or just sounds interesting. In other words, this is what we’re looking forward to and think you should be taking a look at!

Find out what folks think below, and what comics you should be looking out for this week.

American Cult: Graphic History of Religious Cults in America (Silver Sprocket) – This graphic novel is a series of shorts from a variety of creators examining famous cults in the US.

Batman: Reptilian #1 (DC Comics) – Garth Ennis and Liam Sharp dive into the world of Batman. Yes please!

Checkmate #1 (DC Comics) – The events of Event Leviathan pick up as DC’s best spies come together as part of the new Checkmate to take on Leviathan.

Gamma Flight #1 (Marvel) – The gamma-infused group gets the spotlight in a new series and we’re excited to see where this quirky group goes.

Good Luck #1 (BOOM! Studios) – What if luck was quantifiable and something everyone was born with? The concept sounds really cool, especially since this focuses on those that are born with absolutely zero luck.

Harley Quinn #4 (DC Comics) – The series has been a lot of fun tying into the greater Batman meta-story while keeping it squarely on Harley and in her own voice. Add in amazing art and you have a combination we love.

Infinite Frontier #1 (DC Comics) – The latest DC status-quo has opened up an infinite amount of possibilities. This series looks to explore that and what this new status means both good and bad.

Heroes Return #1 (Marvel) – The event has been a bit mixed in quality but we want to see where it goes and how it ends.

MFKZ #1 (Behemoth) – We don’t know about the movie but the art looks really cool.

Nuclear Family #5 (AfterShock) – The series has been some B-movie fun and we really want to see how it all wraps up.

Shadowman #3 (Valiant) – The series has been solid so far as a re-introduction of the character that’s perfect for long-time fans and new readers.

Spawn Universe #1 (Image Comics) – Back in the day Spawn had a corner of the comic universe with numerous tie-in comics. History repeats itself as Spawn again expands out in the first of what is many series to come. We’re intrigued to see where this decades-old franchise goes.

Stray Dogs #5 (Image Comics) – The series has ramped up the tension and scares and it’s clear who the villain is. We’re tense to see how this series wraps up and if the dogs get out alive.

Undiscovered Country #13 (Image Comics) – The series has been completely out there in concepts and kept us on our toes as to what will happen next. After a slight break, it’s back and we’re excited to see where it goes.

Vinyl #1 (Image Comics) – A story of psychopaths, sweet love, and a serial killer named Walter. Well, ok then.

Wonder Woman: Black & Gold #1 (DC Comics) – DC has been knocking it out of the park with a series of releases focused on the “colors” of various heroes. The anthologies have been top-notch with some real gems. We can’t wait to see what this one brings.

Preview: Harley Quinn #4

Harley Quinn #4

Written by: Stephanie Nicole Phillips
Art by: Riley Rossmo

I may be in the sewer, but you better get your mind outta the gutter! That rhymin’ zombie known as Solomon Grundy ain’t happy that I’m in his domain (but to be fair…it’s also Killer Croc’s domain too, there’s a lotta sewer dwellers in Gotham). Grundy’s either going to welcome me with open arms or crush me! And I can’t let that happen, ’cause Kevin’s at the mercy of Hugo Strange. Hugo’s going to do everything in his power to break Kevin and turn him against me, I hope in our brief time together, Kevin’s learned a little perseverance!

Harley Quinn #4

Around the Tubes

It’s one of two new comic book days! What are you all excited for? What are you looking forward to? Sound off in the comments below. While deciding what you want to get, here’s some comic news and reviews from around the web to start your day.

The Beat – A Year of Free Comics: Are gargoyles good roommates? Find out in ROOFTOPS & ROOMMATES – Free comics!

ICv2 – Tapas Media Brings Former DC Group Editor Alex R. Carr on Board – Interesting.

The Beat – DC requested HARLEY QUINN animated series remove a scene of oral sex between Batman & Catwoman – Cat got his tongue?

Review

Monkeys Fighting Robots – Jim Lives: The Mystery of the lead Singer of the Doors and the 27 Club

Jim Lives

Review: DC Pride #1

DC Pride #1

In honor of Pride Month, DC Comics dropped DC Pride #1, an 80 page anthology featuring short stories with LGBTQ+ characters by mainly LGBTQ+ creators. In addition to the stories, there’s an introduction by prominent gay comics writer Marc Andreyko (Manhunter, Love is Love) and pinups by some of the best LGBTQ+ artists (and artists period) like Sophie Campbell, Nick Robles, and Kevin Wada. The overall tone of the anthology is celebratory, but one story definitely made me tear up. I really enjoyed how DC Pride touched all corners of the LGBTQ umbrella and its exploration of how our differences make us stronger and really hope that one day all the characters featured in the book can have their own comic.

After the aforementioned introduction by Andreyko and a vibrant pinup of queer Teen Titans Aqualad, Bunker, Traci-13, and Crush from Travis Moore, DC Pride #1 leads off with a Batwoman story from James Tynion and Trung Le Nguyen. It starts with a look back at Kate Kane’s childhood, and how she didn’t conform to traditional gender roles and desires beginning with the games she would play with her sister Beth (Now the supervillain Alice) where they would pretend to be dolls complete with makeup, frilly dresses, and the accoutrements of traditional femininity. There’s almost a fairy tale cadence to both Tynion’s writing and Nguyen’s art as Kate grows up, finds love in the arms of a variety of women, and forges an identity as the superhero, Batwoman. Trung Le Nguyen’s flat reds and blacks punctuate these changes while James Tynion’s script takes a macro-level to the theme of pride as they show a montage of various queer heroes in the DC Universe fighting their battles and being themselves. This opening story is a fine encapsulation of Batwoman’s character journey and also is an ode to embracing queerness and gender conformity in a heteronormative world. Plus Nguyen’s story book style applied to superhero comics is a real visual treat.

estrano and midnighter

The next story was one of my favorites as Steve Orlando returns to Midnighter (kind of) and Extraño as the magician regales John Constantine with a tale of a night out with the violent vigilante. Orlando and artist Stephen Byrne’s story is pure fanservice and adventure in the best way with iconic visual and verbal moments like Midnighter punching a Nazi vampire’s head off and John Constantine flirting with Extraño at a bar and totally being open to a threesome with Extraño and his werewolf husband. This story is mostly made up of fun things like one-liners, magic, and mayhem. However, Steve Orlando digs a little deeper with his script and commentates on how queer history is rewritten by bigoted historians with lovers becoming relatives (Like in the original Sailor Moon English dub) or “pals” as Midnighter and Extraño fight the aforementioned vampire to stop him from casting a spell that makes people think the mythological heroes Achilles and Patroclus were cousins, not lovers. This is a very real issue, and it’s vindicating to watch Midnighter and Extraño kick the asses of those who would straight-wash history in a thrilling, beautiful way thanks to Orlando’s witty script and Byrne’s power-packed visuals.

The third story in DC Pride is a noir-tinged saga of dark alleys, fisticuffs, and political activism starring Renee Montoya aka The Question from Vita Ayala, Skylar Partridge, and Jose Villarrubia. The plot is fairly straightforward with the Question tracking down missing defense attorney and city council candidate Valeria Johnson. Partridge and Villarrubia bring the dark shadows, atmosphere, and flat background colors when Montoya puts the fear of her into some loutishly heterosexual goons. I love how Skylar Partridge uses inset panels to show Montoya’s speed and skill and match Ayala’s snappy narrative captions. The whole story looks gorgeous, and there’s also a hint of budding romance between Renee Montoya and Valeria Johnson as the latter isn’t just a do-gooder damsel in distress. It definitely feels like a backdoor pilot for a Renee Montoya Question series, and I would love to see more of this creative team fleshing her and her relationship with Valeria out.

The Question story is followed by a hilarious and touching Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy story from Mariko Tamaki, Amy Reeder, and Marissa Louise. Basically, this anti-heroic duo stop a plant monster from going on a rampage (After giving it several cute pet names.) and talk about their relationship. Underneath Louise’s candy-meets-body horror palette and Reeder’s memorable facial expressions and high-wire layouts, they chat about going from the “will they, won’t they” stage to the moving in and starting a life stage. Tamaki’s script is peppered with jokes (Including a classic lesbian U-Haul one.), but she also once and for all shows that Harley and Ivy are a well-matched, occasionally wacky queer couple, and that they’ve brought a lot of support and laughs into each other’s lives. Also, Harley’s hammer should always have a Kirby face on it.

Alan Scott and Obsidian

Full disclosure: Sam Johns, Klaus Janson, and Dave McCaig’s Alan Scott and Obsidian story was the one that made me cry. At brunch with Obsidian and his partner, the Golden Age Green Lantern opens up to his estranged son and tells him that Obsidian’s confidence to live as an out gay man encouraged him to finally come out and be his full, true self to the world. Janson uses nine panel grids, Ben-Day dots, and a command of 1940s fashion to show Alan’s secret romance with a train conductor named Jimmy and also walk down memory lane when being gay was a crime and gay bars were shuttered and didn’t have liquor licenses. As well as expanding on Alan Scott coming out in the main DC continuity in Infinite Frontier, this story is an homage to queer elders and their struggles in a world where they could be jailed or even killed holding someone of the same gender’s hand in public. It’s a beautiful intergenerational story and really made me fall in love with Alan Scott as a character even more. He’s the queer grandpa I never had.

The sixth story in DC Pride #1is a fast-moving, romantic story from Danny Lore, Lisa Sterle, and Enrica Erin Angiolini about Jess Chambers (Future State Flash) getting ready for their date with Andy Curry aka Aquawoman. This pair had fantastic chemistry in Future State: Justice League, and it’s nice to see a story centered around their relationship that also riffs on the classic Flash tropes of lateness, Rogues, and legacy. As Jess faces off against Reflek, who was trained by Mirror Master, Sterle and Angiolini get play with different panel shapes simulating the speedster trying to break free from a hall of mirrors while trying to get their outfit, makeup, and gift together. Also, it’s refreshing to see a story featuring a nonbinary character not be all about their gender identity, but focus on action and relationships like any other Flash story. Andy and Jess have a nice thing going, and like many of the other characters who appear in this anthology, I hope to see more of them, their impeccable fashion senses, and cool superpowers in future DC titles.

DC Pride #1 returns to the intergenerational queerness well in a Pied Piper story from Sina Grace, Ro Stein, and Ted Brandt. They introduce a new character, Drummer Boy, who is inspired by Pied Piper to create mind-controlling beats so that he can take money from rich fat cats and save Central City’s gayborhood from gentrification, which is a very real problem in real life today. Drummer Boy calling out Pied Piper’s photo ops and not taking direct action since he’s been rich and famous is something that could be directed at many LGBTQ+ celebrities like Ru Paul, who literally uses his wealth to destroy the Earth. This issue creates a real fantasy in which LGBTQ+ celebrities help their community instead of palling around with war criminals at NFL games while Grace gets in some licks about being smart with one’s direct action and abilities when Pied Piper points out that if Drummer Boy steals money off rich people’s credit cards that they’ll just contest the charges. Drummer Boy has a real activist streak as a hero, and I love the energy that Stein and Brandt visually bring to his powers as well as not making him look like the average Ken-doll superhero body type.

The penultimate story in DC Pride #1introduces the transgender superhero Dreamer, who first appeared in the Supergirl television show, to the comics in a story written by Nicole Maines (Who played Dreamer in the show) and with art by Rachael Stott and Enrica Erin Angolini. Dreamer’s debut is a slice of story as she rushes to clean up a League of Shadows cell before rushing off to date night with Brainiac 5. Maines’ script has a cheery, humorous tone with a hilarious final panel, and Dreamer makes a lot of quips to go with Stott’s acrobatic fight choreography that is still good at showing motion even though her art style is more photorealistic. There’s a big feeling of wanting to get the fights over with so that Dreamer can spend time with the man she loves, and this story could honestly be one big metaphor for work/life balance. Dreamer makes her mark with charm and wholesomeness in the story, and her oneiromantic abilities have real visual flair.

Jackson Hyde

DC Pride #1 wraps up with a superhero spin on a big damn Pride parade with Andrew Wheeler, Luciano Vecchio, and Rex Lokus chronicling Aqualad’s first Pride since coming out with his new friend (and Extraño’s apprentice) Syl. Lokus’ colors match the tone of the story from bright and triumphant to dark and dreary as Eclipso has everyone at Pride airing out their worst thoughts and finally triumphant again with a group of DC’s LGBTQ+ superheroes led by Extraño saving the day and being the true, queer selves in the process. This story is a true victory lap, but Wheeler spends a little time in Aqualad’s head as he takes in the sights and sounds of Pride and also grapples with not wanting to be like his father, the villainous Black Manta. Even though everyone feels isolated and alone when targeted by Eclipso, there is actually a large, vibrant LGBTQ+ community of heroes in the DC Universe and hopefully they show up in stories beyond this anthology, which has honestly been a recurring theme as I read through the stories in DC Pride #1.

DC Pride #1 is a fantastic showcase not just for DC Comics’ LGBTQ+ characters, but the company’s LGBTQ+ creators too as they capture a range of relationships, feelings, sexualities, and gender identities. There’s a lot of focus on established romantic relationships, but some of the stories explore activism, community, and the Midnighter/Extrano/John Constantine is a straight up adventure yarn. I enjoyed seeing myself and my queer siblings uplifted in this comic and hope DC can do something more ongoing with these characters, situations, and especially creators.

Story: James Tynion IV, Steve Orlando, Vita Ayala, Mariko Tamaki
Sam Johns, Danny Lore, Sina Grace, Nicole Maines, Andrew Wheeler
Art: Trung Le Nguyen, Stephen Byrne, Skylar Partridge, Amy Reeder, Klaus Janson
Lisa Sterle, Ro Stein and Ted Brandt, Rachael Stott, Luciano Vecchio
Colors: Jose Villarrubia, Marissa Louise, Dave McCaig, Enrica Erin Angiolini, Rex Lokus
Letters: Aditya Bidikar, Josh Reed, Ariana Maher, Tom Napolitano, Becca Carey, Steve Wands
Story: 9.8 Art: 10 Overall: 9.9 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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Funko Reveals Dia De Los DC Pop!s

During their Funkoween, Funko has revealed Dia De Los DC Funko Pop!s. You can choose from Bane, Batman, Blue Beetle, Green Lantern (Jessica Cruz), Harley Quinn, and the Joker! They’re available for pre-order now.


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Preview: Harley Quinn #3

Harley Quinn #3

Written by: Stephanie Nicole Phillips
Art by: Riley Rossmo

Harley Quinn here, still narrating my solicit text! My war of wellness with Hugo Strange kicks into high gear this issue, and things are gonna get ugly. Hugo is about to send his right-hand man-child Lockwood, Arkham Asylum’s most sadistic guard, after Kevin and me at our first support group meeting. Folks, some things in this world are sacred, and I am not gonna stand for this. Hugo Strange never picked a fight with someone like me before, and he’s not going to like the results. Buy this issue-it’s a real gem!

Harley Quinn #3

Review: Harley Quinn #2

Harley Quinn #2

DC Future State debuted a neon Gotham protected not by Batman but a fascist police force. In the current pages of the various Bat-family comics, we’re seeing the first steps toward that bright but dark future. Harley Quinn was an interesting take on the character focused on her degrees in counseling and PhD in psychology. This wasn’t the clownish Harley but one with quips and using all of her abilities. With it’s debut, Harley Quinn also showed us some steps towards that take with Harley in Gotham attempting to make amends for her crimes. Harley Quinn #2 continues her growth and delivers fun action and a foe for her to focus on.

Stephanie Phillips has knocked it out of the park with her take on the character. Balancing physicality, laughs, and smarts, this Harley Quinn is the complete package and not just a comedic foil to whomever she’s with. Harley Quinn #2 focuses a bit on her next steps and goals as she has decided she wants to help “The Clowns”. But, Hugo Strange has been “rehabilitated” to do the same, except he has city backing. And to Strange, Harley is the ultimate clown to rehabilitate.

Phillips gives us a fun Harley but one that’s about growth. She still acts out and doesn’t quite get how to act around people, but you can tell she wants to do good. That’s helped with her new sidekick Kevin. Kevin joined the clowns during the “Joker War” committing a crime and clearly wants to make amends. He delivers a character you actually want to hug. He’s the clay by which Harley can mold some good.

Phillips does an amazing job of balancing everything in the comic. We have Harley acting out with some hilarious results. There’s some solid action. Then there’s Kevin who makes you want to say “awe” and squeeze him. One issue in and I actually care for the character. And the comic pulls it all off with a sort of glee.

That’s helped by the art. Riley Rossmo delivers his kinetic style to the comic and it fits so well. Ivan Plascencia‘s colors pop as well. The combination is an impressive duo that nails down the character and tone of the series so well. There’s an energy about the comic that oozes from the page. Deron Bennett does an amazing job of packing in so much dialogue at times and with it keeps the chatter flowing and never once distracts from the art. This team, along with Phillips’ scripts, is an amazing one that’s firing on all cylinders.

Harley Quinn #2 is such a fantastic issue. It takes you on a ride and ranges of emotions. The fact I already love Kevin as a character and am cheering for him says everything. Sadly, I’m already attached so fully expect something terrible will happen. For now though, like Harley, I want him, and this comic, by my side.

Story: Stephanie Phillips Art: Riley Rossmo
Color: Ivan Plascencia Letterer: Deron Bennett
Story: 8.5 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: comiXologyKindleZeus ComicsTFAW

Graphic Policy’s Top Comic Picks this Week!

Robin #1

Wednesdays (and now Tuesdays) are new comic book day! Each week hundreds of comics are released, and that can be pretty daunting to go over and choose what to buy. That’s where we come in

Each week our contributors choose what they can’t wait to read this week or just sounds interesting. In other words, this is what we’re looking forward to and think you should be taking a look at!

Find out what folks think below, and what comics you should be looking out for this week.

20 Fists #1 (Source Point Press) – Described as a story about “fist fights and bad romance” that’s all we need to know to get us to read this first issue.

Beatnik Buenos Aires (Fantagraphics) – Set in 1963, this graphic novel celebrates a time in Argentine history when its art scene blossomed.

Beta Ray Bill #2 (Marvel) – The first issue was full of emotion and we’re hoping for more of the same with this as Beta Ray Bill really begins his journey to find himself.

Black Widow #6 (Marvel) – This series has been full of action and we expect more. Solid story and amazing art equals a must read for us!

BRZRKR #2 (BOOM! Studios) – The first issue was full of action and enough to get us to want to check out more. This is a summer popcorn film in comic form.

Cold Dead War #2 (Heavy Metal) – War action featuring zombies! Yeah, we’re in for it.

Friend of the Devil: A Reckless Book (Image Comics) – Ed Brubaker, Jacon Phillips, and Sean Phillips return for a new graphic novel featuring Ethan Reckless. The first was fantastic pulp noir entertainment and we’re expecting more of the same.

Harley Quinn #2 (DC Comics) – Future State delivered a new direction for Harley Quinn and this series is putting her in that direction. We really enjoyed the first issue that has Harley attempting to settle in her new role as hero.

Helm Greycastle #1 (Image Comics) – A new Latinx fantasy about a group of adventurers torn between saving a prince or helping the people.

The Marvels #1 (Marvel) – A journey through Marvel’s history spanning decades written by Kurt Busiek with art by Yildiray Cinar.

Miles Morales: Spider-Man #25 (Marvel) – We’d be lying if we said we weren’t intrigued my the new take on “The Clone Saga”.

The Modern Frankenstein #1 (Heavy Metal/Magma Comix) – A new twist on the classic tale. A surgeon wants to further medical science by any means necessary. So how far will the young medical student attracted to him go?

My Little Pony/Transformers II #1 (IDW Publishing) – The concept might be silly but the first volume was a lot of fun bringing the Transformers to the Pony’s world. Now, they’re heading to Cybertron!

Nuclear Family #3 (AfterShock) – We think we know what’s going on with this alternate history story but we’re not totally sure, so we absolutely want to read this one!

Robin #1 (DC Comics) – Damian strikes out in his own series and we’re here for it. This is a character that grew on us and we want to see if he can do so more.

Shadow Doctor #3 (AfterShock) – Based on a true story, the series is about a Black Doctor who has to go to Al Capone for money to start his business. It’s been amazing so far.

Shadowman #1 (Valiant Entertainment) – We’ve read the first issue and the entire team has loved it. It’s a fantastic start for the new series and great introduction to the character.

Snatched #1 (Scout Comics) – If you thought the drug game was deadly, wait until you see what goes down in the hair trade. Wait… what!?

Stake #2 (Scout Comics) – The first issue was absolutely fantastic and a nice take on the vampire genre. Mixing social media with good action, this is a series that we want to sink our teeth in to.

Summoners War Legacy #1 (Image Comics) – The popular mobile game comes to comics.

Teen Titans Academy #2 (DC Comics) – Who is Red X? Lets face it, that’s what we all want to find out. The first issue was decent but followed a concept we’ve seen before with fun characters but not a lot new… so far.

Your Turn to Die Vol. 1 (Yen Press) – The concept is basically Saw with a group of people but it’s so damn good. Check it out if you like that concept of puzzle-solving where you die if you fail.

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